Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Midway College gets OK from state and accrediting agency to call itself Midway University, starting July 1

By Megan Ingros
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway College has received approval to be called Midway University as of July 1.

President John P. Marsden said he envisioned this change when he first arrived on campus three years ago. “Our vision statement mission plan says we will become Midway University so this should not be a surprise to anyone,” he said in an interview.

Through building partnerships and recruiting international students, Marsden said, it was discovered that the term “college” is often misunderstood in other countries and might be confused with high school or community college. “We felt that ‘university’ would clarify or purpose at the same time it would more aptly describe who we are today,” he said.

The Midway College Board of Trustees approved the name change at its last meeting, in November 2014, and the campus was notified. The state Council on Postsecondary Education approved the name change Jan. 30, after approval by the accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The college issued a press release Monday about the name change after the Midway Messenger learned of the council’s action.

“Becoming a university is a major step forward for Midway,” said Gary S. Cox, president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges & Universities. “It provides new opportunities to meet the diverse, higher education needs of students while continuing its traditional, unique mission as a women’s residential college.  This type diversification of educational offerings is a model most successful women’s colleges are following today.”

Founded in 1847, Midway College remains Kentucky’s only college for women, but it offers associate, baccalaureate and master’s degree programs to both sexes online and at its Lexington campus.

Click on chart for larger version (Assn. of Indep. Ky. Colleges and Univs.)
According to the AICKU, Midway College had the seventh lowest total enrollment among the association’s 19 schools last fall. The next five largest schools are colleges, and so is the fourth largest school, Lindsey Wilson in Columbia. Two of the six schools with smaller enrollments, Brescia in Owensboro and Kentucky Christian at Grayson, are universities.

Midway’s fall 2014 undergraduate head count was 1,059 and graduate 74, for a total of 1,133. The College’s total fall 2013 enrollment was 1,351. The drop in enrollment prompted layoffs of faculty and staff.

Unlike some other states, Kentucky has no law defining the term “university,” so no college has to meet any requirements to become one.

Marsden said the university designation better describes the complexity of the mission that Midway College is serving, with so many different student populations. The college intends to announce new academic programs soon.

“We say ’university,’ but we will still remain a small institution, we will still have a high touch environment, we are working on our personalized approach with students and that’s not going to change, we do not intend on becoming a 10,000-student institution,” Marsden said.

Midway College has been on a road of evolution over the last decade or so. It began offering co-educational evening and online programs for working professionals, and co-ed graduate programs.

“Since I’ve arrived, we’ve also been focusing on our changing demographics that have been building international partnerships,” said Marsden. As part of a college readiness program offered at the college, students from Panama have now matriculated into the college as full-time students.

“We see this as an opportunity to move forward and to hit the re-set button,” Marsden said. “It’s also in conjunction with the major rebranding of the institution that were going through right now.” Midway University will have a refreshed logo as well as a new website, which will also help with recruitment. Those changes will become effective over the summer when the official name change takes place. 

The college has been undergoing rebranding for the past six months. The new logo is not that different from the current logo, “but it does have 1847 in there prominently and that was very important to us to show the history,” said Ellen Gregory, the school’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Gregory said the name change will help rebrand the college. “We have a very defined diversity group that we’re marketing to, so the real boost for us is helping clarify who we are to whom,” said Gregory. “It’s really a point of clarification and moving forward.”

Marsden said, “We have a particular emphasis on career focused education, which is going to be part of our new branding,”

The strategic plan, which includes building the new website, messaging, adding new academic programs and a new logo is “in the messy part right now,” said Gregory. “We have a central mission but we have to interpret it to different audiences for them.”

This is not the first name change for the school. Originally founded as the Kentucky Female Orphan School, it became Pinkerton High School, then Midway Junior College and Midway College.

Marsden elected an officer of Disciples college group

John Marsden, Ph.D.
Midway College President John P. Marsden has been elected secretary of The Council of Colleges & Universities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for a term ending June 30, 2016. "It's a great honor to be elected to serve on the council's executive committee and I look forward to working with other administrators to form even stronger bonds between our institutions and the Christian Church," Marsden said in a college press release.

Marsden is in his third year as president of Midway. He is the author or co-author of four books in the areas of assisted living, dementia care settings and evidence-based design, as well as numerous book chapters, articles and presentations.

No comments: